Smartphone Room Key Just The Begining

Smartphone technology has become an integral part of travel, bringing GEO tagging applications, instant photo uploading to share with the world, and more. Now, smartphones are set to allow hotel guests to bypass check-in and unlock their guest room door simply by touching the handle.

“We’re able to have the hotel guest download our app, put their username and password in, and then it links the reservation to their mobile devices,” said Ben Robertson, CEO of y!kes in a Hotel Management interview.

The process is simple. On the day of the reservation, connected guests will get a notification saying their room is ready. Step into the hotel’s lobby and the system checks them in. Upon arriving at their assigned hotel room, users simply touch the door handle, which recognizes them automatically and allows entrance.The mobile app works with most smartphones, but for guests with out one, the lock system can also work with a traditional key card. In the future, the Y!kes plans to add capabilities to control the temperature, room lighting and TV preferences.

“We’re making it so that the mobile device really makes things easy for that guest throughout their stay … We can service their needs according to their proximity throughout the hotel,” Robertson said.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user bimurch]

Marriott Responds To Internet Privacy Issue

Last week we reported that a Marriott Courtyard in New York might be engaging in some less than above-board Internet marketing practices. At the time, Marriott assured Gadling that they were looking into the issue, stating, “This is not a Marriott-endorsed protocol and we are working to investigate the issue.”

It looks like they’ve done some more digging, as an emailed statement to the New York Times indicated that, “unbeknownst to the hotel, the Internet service provider (ISP) was utilizing functionality that allowed advertising to be pushed to the end user. The ISP has assured the hotel that this functionality has now been disabled.”

We spoke also with Justin Watt, the guest who noticed the issue, who says that he received the same email press statement shared with the public.

“I feel like their response could have been more transparent and information dense,” he wrote in an email to Gadling today, and indicates that he updated his original blog post to state the following:

What bugs me about their response is that the device required to do this type of on-the-fly JavaScript injection of HTML is both rare and expensive. It requires specialized hardware (like the RG Nets’ RXG-A8) starting at a cost of $10,000. In other words, this hardware was procured precisely for the purpose of perpetrating this kind of attack… the optimal solution to this snafu wasn’t simply that “we’ve disabled the functionality”-it has to be “we’ve removed/replaced the offensive hardware”. Nothing less is sufficient. Otherwise, what’s to stop someone from accidentally (or otherwise) re-enabling it later?

Marriott has assured users that “at no time was data security ever at risk,” but the question is, should they be more transparent in sharing their fixes to the issue?

Hotel safety tips: How to choose the best hotel room, best hotel location

When it comes to your safety, hotels can be your best source of security while traveling. While hotels are constantly making improvements to improve their safety, there’s nothing worse than discovering your passport has been stolen or your laptop is broken thanks to a disabled door lock and a fast thief.

While you’re searching for your next hotel, keep these safety tips top of mind.

What makes a safe hotel:

Never compromise your safety for a dollar. A great deal on hotel room can certainly cushion you budget, but it’s worthless if the hotel is in a bad neighborhood or isn’t up to code on things like door locks and surveillance cameras. Once you find the right location, narrow down your hotel choices by taking into consideration the following:

  • Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
  • Does the hotel room have an electronic guest room lock? Key locks are cute and add a bit of charm, but electronic doors track the comings-and-goings of all who enter.
  • Do the hotel rooms have a telephone enabled with emergency call button or the ability dial outside of the hotel?
  • Do photos of the hotel show well-lit hallways, parking garages and lobby areas? (Side note: never book a hotel without viewing pictures first).
  • Hotels with limited entry/exit options usually have less foot-traffic, which keeps stragglers off the premises.
  • Does the hotel provide 24-hour concierge/security? Knowing someone is on duty at all times allows for peace of mind if you’re feeling unsafe.
  • Before booking a hotel room in an international destination, make sure it’s in a safe area by checking with the US Embassy in that country.

When arriving at your hotel:

  • Stay with your luggage at all times. If a bellman offers to take your bags, make sure to keep the bag with your laptop, wallet and jewelry in it, and get the Bellman’s name.
  • Once you check in, grab a few hotel cards or matchbooks with the hotel’s address on it and place them in your bag. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number ready to give to a cab driver.

Selecting the safest hotel room:

  • While the higher floors have the best views, the lower floors have quicker access to the ground. In the event of an emergency, you want to get out fast. Keep in mind that some fire departments, including those in the United States, can only reach as high as floor 8 in an emergency.
  • Whenever possible, do not take a hotel room on the ground floor if it has doors and windows that open to the outside. This is particularly important for motels with rooms off parking lots. If you can’t get a room on a higher floor, forgo your view and choose a room facing the interior or courtyard.
  • Guestrooms near the elevators are generally the safest, but can also be the noisiest. If you’re staying alone, request that your room is in the middle of the hallway or near an elevator – while the alcoves and corner rooms are very intimate and offer great views, they are also somewhat hidden making it easier for thieves to access.

After arriving in your room, check for the following:

  • If the hotel room you’re staying in has older door locks (metal keys instead of the electronic key cards) make sure to check the deadbolt and safety chain when you arrive in your room. If they seem jittery or loose, ask to change rooms.
  • Check the closets and bathrooms for anything left from the last guests and ensure all windows and adjoining doors shut and lock properly.
  • Check the phone to make sure an outside line is accessible.
  • Locate the nearest fire exit and count how many doors along the way until you reach the exit. In the event of a fire and heavy smoke, counting the doors will ensure you get to safety if you can’t see.

When you leave your hotel room:

  • Leave the television on – it gives the impression someone is in the room. Ask the maid service to keep the TV on or turn on the radio during turn-down service.
  • The ‘please make up my room’ sign is also code for ‘I’m not here’. Don’t worry about making your bed or needing clean towels – maid service keeps track of the rooms and what’s been cleaned, so they’ll get to you regardless of whether you have the sign on your door. If you don’t need your room serviced, place the “Do not disturb” sign on your door when you leave. This gives the impression you’re inside.
  • If you have valuables and don’t have an in-room safe, ask to use the security vault in the hotel. If you have an in-room safe, use it!

Now that you’re armed with the best hotel safety tips, get out of your room and enjoy your trip!



Women-Only Hotel Room Floor and a Poll

Martha recently wrote a post about women-only airplane bathrooms, but how about paying extra money for a “women-only floor” in a hotel? The hitch is that you have to be a woman and willing to spend $30 more head to this exclusive floor of X chromosome only slumber at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota. The extra money pays for more security and perks like flowers and chocolate.

Well, as you can imagine, the idea is not loved by everyone and is praised by others. The naysayers aren’t pleased with the segregation idea for a few reasons. If women want an all women floor, than why won’t men demand men-only floor? And since men are more often the decision makers in companies, women have yet another way to be left out of the loop while on a business trip. Others wonder if you could end up segregating people for other reasons too. (Think race)


Those that love the all-women floor idea say phewey on the race point–that’s nonsense–and that women feel safer and are more comfortable with business travel if they have a place to retreat from the male business traveler fray. This women-only floor sounds to me a bit like a women-only dorm on a college campus. I remember guys yelling outside of the windows of my female-only dorm when I was a freshman, “Throw down your panties.”

You can read more about the discussion in this article published in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatchalthough the link actually goes to the same article published in the Toldedo Blade earlier this summer. (As a note, the article has misinformation about the JW Marriot, unless the Marriot has since changed its mind. There had been a “women-only” floor planned for the JW Marriott opening this month in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The plan was tabled, however, according to this article on Fox New’s Web site.

(The photo of the all women floor hallway is from the candid shots section of the Crowne Plaza at Trip Advisor. There is also a thumbs up review of the floor.)